Did you ever wonder where the faux famous come from? You know… the ones who are famous for just being famous. Perhaps you may get some insight from Sofia Coppola’s new film The Bling Ring. It’s based on true events in Los Angeles, with, as they say, only the names changed.
A group of students… one guy, four girls… gravitate toward each other at a high school for underachievers. They are star struck and smitten with the idea of fame. One day, it’s noted on the Internet that Paris Hilton is out of town for an event. So a couple of the friends hatch a plot to find out where she lives, and to try to break in so they can look around. If it was as easy as portrayed in the movie, I’m surprised more burglars don’t try it. Or maybe they do. Anyway, upon invading the Hilton premises, they discover all sorts of goodies… designer clothes, hundreds of pairs of ugly shoes, cash and jewelry. It’s like a big shopping spree with no credit card bills to come in. Once the first raid is a success, the group moves on to Lindsay Lohan, then back to Paris Hilton, and on to a couple of other people I’ve never heard of. They score like bandits, which, of course, is what they are. But it’s fun, thrilling, and something to take them away from the mundane everyday of normal life.
During the first fifteen or twenty minutes of The Bling Ring, it feels as if it’s going to be another contemporary teen film, with parties and such. But there’s more going on here as Coppola gets into the meat of the story. These are all kids from well-to-do backgrounds, so they’re not impoverished. If anything, they’re over-pampered and under-parented.
The cast is good. Other than Emma Watson, from Harry Potter films fame, they are unknown to me. Coppola has a way with the younger generation to get what she wants on screen. Her best efforts as a writer-director, The Virgin Suicides and Lost in Translation, prove that she’s learned her craft well. She knows when to move the camera and when to just sit and watch. There’s a really nifty shot covering one of the burglaries in the Hollywood hills in a house largely made of glass… a movie metaphor if there ever was one. Coppola takes a high overhead shot so that the entire front of the house is visible as our prowlers enter, ramble through, help themselves, and exit, all as the camera sits perfectly still as an outside observer.
The characters in The Bling Ring, which is the nickname they earn from the media for only taking high-end and expensive goods, will make you feel many emotions: sadness, anger, and possibly small doses of amusement. But in the end, they are all empty people with no inner core of self-worth, or any sense of what’s right and wrong. And while the final scene provides a chuckle, it’s also chilling in that it sort of answers the question “where do the faux famous come from?”
Granted, a lot of the action seems repetitive… how many pairs of shoes can you steal in one movie… but their lives are repetitive, with no particular place to go. By keeping the film to a brisk ninety minutes, Coppola manages to avoid any feeling of boredom for the audience. While not as good as her Lost in Translation, The Bling Ring is a worthwhile look at contemporary morals, or lack of same, among people who some may consider as having it all.
The R-rated The Bling Ring is now showing at the Esquire Theatre, AMC Newport on the Levee and West Chester 18, Rave Milford, and Showcase Springdale.